THE LATEST KASHMIR VALLEY IMBROGLIO:

FOOLS ENTER WITH “SOLUTIONS”

By ARVIND LAVAKARE

The Indian nation has been suffering from chronic Ankylosing Spondylitis ever since the India attained independence from the British Empire on 15th August 1947.

The severe neck pain in India’s northern-most state frequently sends shivers down the country’s spine as well. Yes, almost the entire nation has been bogged down all too often by a seemingly unending unrest in its State of Jammu & Kashmir (J&K), popularly but flawly referred to as “Kashmir” which is only one of the three provinces of Jammu, Kashmir Valley and Ladakh.

The source of this unrest has been the fact that the Kashmir Valley has been a Muslim majority region and J&K as a whole also has Muslims as the majority community. The grouse has been that J&K State should have gone to Islamic Pakistan after the British divided India into two separate Dominions on the basis of religion preponderance while letting the 562 Princely States to choose one or the other Dominion by what was called the Instrument of Accession.

This ceaseless grievance of the Indian Partition began with a so-called tribal invasion of the State capital, Srinagar, by Pakistani forces in October 1947. It has subsequently gone through internal communal rift, four external India-Pakistan wars, tormenting debates in the United Nations, a holocaust of some four million Hindu Pandits being driven out from the Kashmir Valley and innumerable failed “dialogues” between the two countries in the last 70 years. Though dubbed as a Paradise on Earth for its stunning beauty, J&K State has become a minuscule theatre of war of one kind or another.

The latest “attack” of this Spondylitis occurred on July 9 this year, after a self-confirmed young terrorist hailing from Kashmir Valley, Bunar Wani, was killed in an encounter with Indian security forces. It’s been a well-nigh hell for the Valley which saw a curfew of 51 days at a stretch.

And now, even as the ruling coalition government of J&K State’s soft-cum-hard attitude is inching towards a lull and peace in the Kashmir Valley, a saint from Uttar Pradesh has entered the scene, offering a potion that, he says, will bring peace to J&K and make it a paradise it used to be. He is a Hindu saint with a connect to the legendary Adi Shankaracharya lineage. And, having recently visited Kashmir, believes that a UN-administered plebiscite in the Indian-administered State of J&K and a separate plebiscite in the Pak-occupied Kashmir (seized from India in the 1947–48 war) will bring “a permanent solution”. For the same purpose, he wanted the government to talk to the Hurriyat Conference leaders and “the separatists”

Poor, dear, the good saint is, like many others in the past and present, ignorant of certain facts of history, of the Constitution of India, and of the separate Constitution of the State of Jammu & Constitution. The facts are:

  1. A plebiscite is not permitted in the Indian Constitution.

Yes, it was publicly mooted by India’s first Prime Minister, Jawaharlal Nehru. Without consulting his Deputy Prime Minister, leave alone his Cabinet of Ministers, Nehru did exactly that on 3rd November, 1947, in an All India Radio broadcast. In that broadcast, he said that “Kashmir should decide about accession by plebiscite or referendum”. and “The question of the State’s accession should be settled by reference to the people.” And, yes, Nehru even agreed to a plebiscite during the deliberations in the United Nations which took up India’s complaint of 1st January 1948 against the armed aggression of Pakistan intrusion into India with its forces in the garb of “tribesmen.”

But, let no one forget that Nehru’s decision was prior to the enactment of the Constitution of India on 26th November 1949. That Constitution just has no provision of any kind for a plebiscite. Nor will any Parliament of India permit a constitutional amendment that will allow it.

By the way, the plebiscite recommended by the UN Security Council in its Resolution of April 21, 1948 could not be implemented because Pakistan refused to comply with its pre-condition that Pakistan withdraws all its forces from the J&K State.

2 The non-amendable Section 3 of the J&K State Constitution (enacted on 17th November 1956) says “The State of Jammu and Kashmir is and shall be an integral part of the Union of India.”

It must be noted that Section 147 of the J&K State Constitution, lays down that

“no bill or amendment seeking to make any amendment in the provisions of section 3 …shall be introduced or moved in either House of the Legislature” of the State. So, a holy saint and unholy “separatists” of the Kashmir Valley, as well as ultra-soft liberals just cannot root for a plebiscite in J&K to be accepted by India.

  1. The suggestion that a plebiscite be held in POK is tantamount to a plebiscite in J&K State itself and therefore untenable, even under the aegis of the UN.

This is because, probably unknown to our holy saint, POK is legally a part of the J&K State. Section 4 of the J&K State Constitution says “The territory of the State shall comprise all territories which on the fifteenth day of August, 1947, were under the sovereignty of the Ruler of the State.” And it’s well-known fact of geography and history that when Hari Singh, the Maharaja of Jammu & Kashmir State signed the stipulated Instrument of Accession (as per the requirement of the British Empire) on 26th October 1947 in favour of the Dominion of India, the so-called POK was very much under his suzerainty. That is also why, under Section 48 of the J&K State Constitution, “twenty-four seas in the Legislative Assembly (of J&K State) shall remain vacant”. ..“until the area of the State under occupation of Pakistan ceases to be so occupied.” Note that amending Section 48 is not possible because secession of J&K is barred by the earlier cited Section 3 of the J&K State constitution.

  1. Finally, the saint’s advice of a political dialogue with the Hurriyat Conference leaders, the “separatists” and the J.K. Liberation Front to provide a permanent solution is like wining and dining with the devil.

The long track record of those people is that they simply hate India even as they continue to live there. They accept that they are citizens of India only because they need Indian passports to travel to Pakistan, to the USA and elsewhere. They are in India because political leaders of the State and India have, all these years in the past, feared them for their ability to instigate protestors of the stone-pelting and grenade throwers, and hence gifted them luxurious housing, 24x7 security and other perquisites even as their only apparent occupation in life is to oppose India’s rule over J&K, claiming azadi (freedom) of one kind or another from the Union of India. They are thus an obsessive and obstinate lot who have never wanted peace in Kashmir Valley except on their own terms. The only way to engage them is to disengage them for life.

That’s the message which must go to the holy saint and to several pro-Pakistan politicians who are so quick to wear the peaceful garb despite India having burnt fingers and hands time and again the past.

Time has truly come for India to stop the phenomenon of “Fools enter where angels fear to tread.” It’s time to be real and stop dreaming pipe dreams of peace. The quicker it happens, the better it will be for the nation.

(NOTE: Comments are welcome at arvind.lavakare@gmail.com)

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